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Full text of "War-time financial problems"

WAR'S DESTRUCTION                 3

real meaning of capital. Marbles to play with,
houses to live in, motor-cars to go joy-riding in—all
these are assets which can be disposed of, and so, in
a sense, may be called capital. But the business-
like meaning of the word is the tools and equipment
of industry, because it is only by their possession
that the wealth of mankind not only increases man's
present enjoyment, but enhances his future output
of the goods necessary for his existence.

If we take the word in this sense it becomes at
once apparent that the theory is exaggerated which
maintains that war is destroying capital, so that
capital will long be at a famine price. The extent to
which war is actually destroying the tools and equip-
ment of industry is quite limited. On the actual
battlefield that sort of destruction proceeds apace
when factories are shelled into shapeless lumps of
bricks, and when the surface of the earth, that man's
skill had developed into great productive fertility,
is torn into craters and covered with rubbish. There
is also rapid destruction of a very important part of
the equipment of industry owing to the submarine
campaign, which is sinking so many fine ships that
were meant to carry goods from one country to
another. But, apart from this actual destruction
on the battlefield and on the sea, the tools and equip-
ment of industry over the greater part of the eaith
remain untouched. It is true that, owing to the
preoccupations of the war, not so much work as
usual is being put into the upkeep and repair of our
railways, factories and other industrial tools. But
at the same time an enormous amount of new